Ethiopia’s new leader will need to stabilize a country that on Friday entered its second state of emergency in two years. Bloomberg contributors Nizar Manek & Samuel Gebre list some of the top candidates the EPRDF council is expected to consider for the post of party chairman and, consequently, the country’s prime minister.

By Nizar Manek & Samuel Gebre (Bloomberg) |

Ethiopia’s ruling party will soon meet to elect a new leader, two weeks after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned amid the worst anti-government protests in a quarter century.

The choice of a new chairman of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front is likely to demonstrate the party’s commitment to political reform as it seeks to reassert control over one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies and second-most populous nation, according to analysts including Ahmed Salim at Teneo Intelligence in Dubai.

The EPRDF may select its leader from either the Oromo or Amhara communities, whose members make up more than half of the population of 105 million and have demanded greater political representation since 2015 in sporadic, often deadly protests. The party has been dominated by minority ethnic Tigrayans, who have held key economic and military positions since it overthrew the country’s military junta in 1991.

 Ethiopia’s new leader will need to stabilize a country that on Friday entered its second state of emergency in two years. The demonstrations in the Oromo and Amhara regions have left hundreds of people dead, according to advocacy groups including Human Rights Watch, and have occurred amid conflict between the Oromo and Somali regions that has forced more than 900,000 people to flee their homes.

Once the chairman has been appointed, they’re expected to be named as prime minister, said Getachew Reda, a member of the EPRDF’s executive committee.

Here are some of the candidates the EPRDF council is expected to consider for the post of party chairman:

Abiy Ahmed, OPDO chairman

Abiy, 41, was elected chairman of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization last month, with the OPDO announcing it made the appointment “to meet the fundamental need of the Oromo people.” A former minister of science and technology, Abiy established the Information Network Security Agency (INSA) in 2007 that undertook mass surveillance of Ethiopians and dissidents in Europe and America after he left in 2010, according to the Toronto-based Citizen Lab research group.

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